Today’s the first day back after my trip to Costa Rica.
Or, it was supposed to be.
The night before my 7:15am flight, my friend (and ex-imaginary-arch-nemesis) Ash messaged me that a volcano had erupted and covered the San Jose airport in ash. (Really, what are the odds that my trip to visit Ash would be cancelled on account of ash? Too cutesy to happen, I thought.)
I kept refreshing the list of cancelled flights, and mine didn’t appear on it. So I got up at 4 am as planned. 4 am. The hour when only farmers, breast-feeding moms, and meth heads are awake. Went to the airport.
Got on the plane.
Buckled my seatbelt, put my setback in the upright position, passive-aggressively battled the passenger next to me for the armrest, ignored the safety demonstration, got psyched to nod off and regain some lost sleep.
Eavesdropped on a shrill woman with exposed, dirty feet telling a stranger that her husband won’t travel with her because he’s an artist and all he cares about in life are his teeny, tiny paintings with their teeny, tiny flowers, but that’s OK, because her life can still be big without him and this trip is just for her.
Texted Ash that we were taking off. Exchanged expressions of PHEW and MEANT TO HAPPEN and WOOHOO, WE’RE ON! and CAN YOU IMAGINE IF IT GOT CANCELLED? THAT WOULD HAVE SUCKED!
And then, the announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this flight has been called back to the gate. The airport in San Jose is closed. We’ve been told we’ll have new information in two hours.”
I KNEW it. And I know the airline knew it, too. The whole boarding and clearing for takeoff was a charade. Because why not toy with our heads? Why not get our hopes up on the off-off-off chance that the airport might open just in time and they can still run the flight?
Playing with 200 peoples’ emotions, as long as it all happens before you have to hand out free barbecue flavor Popchips, doesn’t cost a dime.
Spent several hours in the airport knowing that I was probably there for nothing, because really, was someone going to clear a whole airport of volcanic ash in a couple of hours? With what, a broom?
But then what if I left and later found out the flight had boarded and gone to Costa Rica after all?
Tried to sleep in a seat at the gate. Sent Ash a video of myself “jerking off.” Heard announcement that we’d now be finding out information about our flight at 1:45.
Was it worth 50 bucks to buy a day pass to the United Club? Another layer of limbo.
When this happens, there’s an airport-wide pact among airline personnel.
A cone of silence. Don’t tell nobody nothing.
I just happened to hear the desk people at the lounge, where I’d decided to cough up the 50 bucks, gossiping. “You hear about this Costa Rica flight? They say it’s not going out till at least tomorrow.”
My trip was only 3 nights. No point going for 2. Got my refund and went home.
This was not the kind of cancelled I like.
I like the kind that saves you stress and hassle. Not the kind that happens after you’ve already gone through it and gotten to the airport. That kind’s a total waste.
First, the wasted money:
-The Carmel car to the airport.
-The overpriced gum and magazines at Hudson News because, as usual, I didn’t fit in the time to go to CVS before the trip.
-Also from Hudson News, the usual book that I wasn’t going to read.
(I always buy some bestseller about the brain and how you can change it, but it invariably remains in my bag the whole trip. Because my brain doesn’t want to read it.)
-The ride back from the airport, in a crappy New Jersey cab that had gum wrappers on the floor and didn’t take credit cards.
The wasted calories:
– A terrible blueberry muffin, the kind I only buy at an airport because airports make me think it’s OK to consume a 500-calorie baked good, as long as I eat just the top at first and then pick at the bottom part over the course of the day with my fingers.
The wasted stress, which upsets me most:
– Fitting in a pedicure, hair appointment, eyelash appointment, because two women who’ve never met in person want to look good for each other, as do any women, period.
– Taking on too much work before leaving, and then berating myself for my poor time management.
– Worrying all day before takeoff how I’m going to fit in pedicure, work, packing, and dinner with a friend who’s in town for the first and only time in a year. Cursing my feet for needing fresh nail polish in order to appear human.
– Cancelling dinner with that friend, hating myself even more for my poor time management and my prioritizing of toenails over friendship.
– Knowing I’ve packed more “going out outfits” than I need, wondering if I’ll ever nail packing during my time on this earth.
– Remembering right after getting into bed for my 4 hours’ sleep that I haven’t set up my away message.
– Lying in bed awake, because I can never fall asleep when I know I have to wake up early. A cruel irony.
But then, there’s the upside.
– Our flight didn’t fly all the way to Costa Rica and get turned around.
– Or, it didn’t fly all the way there and crash because of volcanic ash.
– The planning and anticipation with Ash was fun. I don’t regret that part, even though I now have trip-to-Costa-Rica and meeting-my-new-friend blue balls.
– Material for blog post.
Other than that, not sure what the teachable moment or silver lining is. Any ideas?
Tell me a bright side of not going on this trip.
Or, have you ever had a trip cancelled?
Do you spell it canceled, or cancelled?
What’s your biggest traveling nightmare? Real, or imagined?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS
Stephanie Martel says
Dang. I was so looking forward to hearing about the world colliding! Are you rescheduling?
My travel nightmare was back in 2008 when I went on a 3 week tour through India and Nepal, and got sick at the end to the point of needing surgery–in a third world country, mind you. (Worst possible scenario EVER.)
On my horrendous 2 day journey of flights home, I had 30 staples in my stomach and the flight attendants on the longest leg wouldn’t let me recline in business class–which was completely empty. I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was thinking about how there’s a special place in hell for them. haha
I do love me a co-a-inky-dink. Just discovered you today via The Gently Mad (resonated on a thousand levels, thank you), and just got back from Costa Rica (where we were biting our nails wondering if we were going to get to fly out safely!)
Rochelle Torke says
Hilarious, Laura. I once freaked out in Yosemite because my only chance to take a precious, 1-minute shower was thwarted by a “complex group dynamic” and limited bus schedule. No shower for four days = I almost died. Then! Weeks later! We learned there had been big viral outbreak (spread by rats, gag) at those very showers we were so jonesing to use and people actually, for real, got deathly ill after using them. I try to remember this whenever the world conspires against me. I’m like, “well, maybe there’s a rodent-based viral infection sweeping that street so thank god I’m stuck in this traffic and getting nowhere.”
Thanks for another great read. You are a fantabulous story spinner.
Ash Ambirge says
I still cannot believe this *didn’t* happen. I feel like I’m going to have an entirely different relationship with volcanos forever. Everytime I see one, I’m going to give it the stink eye. EVERY TIME.
You probably saved yourself another uncomfortable ride on a plane that emits who-knows- what in the air; you were spared a likely tasteless meal and you didn’t have to it next to a loud or talkative seatmate. Which can dampen any adventure to an exotic location.
My biggest traveling nightmare wasn’t really that bad and I can’t even blame the airport.
I blame the No. 1 Boo (the Mr. to my Mrs.).
He forgot to unplug the alarm clock and we were half way to the airport when wed had to go BACK to unplug it. The last thing you want is to be cursed out by your New York City neighbor’s for letting your alarm clock go buck wild for a week.
My neighbors are pretty creative with the F-word.
I bit my tongue for the entire cab ride. I mean, why do the typical wife rant when sh!t was already on the fan?
We (this includes the No. 1 Son who was a tween at the time ) rushed through the airport with seconds to spare.
We made the flight.
I had a cocktail.
Peace was restored.
Secret divorce papers remain, well, a secret. (Just kidding!)
I spell cancelled this way. Always have always will.
Oh, no! I was so looking forward to following this trip on social media. I mean, the two of you together, that was going to be unprecedented fun. I’m sorry you didn’t get to go. Silver lining? You have to plan another attempt at this trip and you get to enjoy that anticipation again?
Liz DiAlto says
I don’t understand how there are any comments when you already said “blue balls.” End of story.
I think we’re almost as disappointed as you are, not getting to hear about the imaginary-arch-nemesis close encounter.
This one really made me laugh! I love how you admit stuff that I don’t even admit to myself. I think I actually blush when I read your blog because I feel somehow exposed. I have to remind myself that nobody knows that I think those very same thoughts. I think you are very brave to show us all that we are the same underneath our careful exteriors.
The only flight your story made me think of is my then boyfriend, now husband’s flight from Malta to Rome to meet me when his plane almost crashed. He took a photo out the window of the plane of Mt. Vesuvius erupting and I took photo of the eruption from a car and we still fight about whose picture is better.
I’m sorry about your trip, but this blog post brought me to tears with laughter. I never read anyone’s blog posts all the way through, much less, comment on them.
Good luck with the blue balls.
Cancelled trip to visit Ash due to ash. A cruel joke from the universe? I was so looking forward to reading about the encounter. Another time, I hope!
I was supposed to go to Prague for Easter one year. (Did you know they whip girls with twigs for Easter? Fun!)
Anyway, flight was canceled so I bought a scooter instead!
David C Belgray says
Laura, back in the good ole days when I worked as Mgr. of Profit Planning for Eastern
Airlines, Mom and I used to fly free virtually everywhere, a marvelous perk for all employees. One weekend, we decided to fly to San Antonio, from which we’d travel to
Bandera, locale of dude ranches as we called them: Horseback riding through cactus
country right out of a movie story with Ronald Reagan. (I think he might have been a better horseback rider than President).
At the airport, the word was that storms on the way to San Antonio forced a cancellation of the flight. Disappointment! Where to go? We decided on Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL. It did work out, but we, in our 30’s, lolled on the beach there, totally surrounded by O-O-L-D geezers in their 70’s and 80’s. OY!
Now when we travel, we resemble the very people we met on the beach at St. Petersburg.
PS Think we were lucky to get those free flights? I paid for it by managing the company’s affairs in such a way that the stock price quadrupled in one year. The free
flights were the only thanks received from the President & staff & stockholders, hah! Oh yes, my immediate boss Bob Arnold thanked me, as did friends who bought stock when I told them merely to buy, buy, buy.
Peter Schwartz says
Isn’t that insider trading?
Sometimes…wait for it…there’s no good reason for the fucking madness! No, your plane wouldn’t have crashed upon take-off and there’s probably nothing huge waiting to happen at home in NYC for you to justify the cancellation. But here’s the thing, that’s ok. You rolled with it and got a great blog post out it. It’s funny to me the concept that with every perceived negative, there needs to be a positive reason why it didn’t happen. How about, “Life happens”?
Last month, my 16 year old got his license, and an hour after he left the house for the first time, calls me to tell me that someone ran a stop sign and hit him. Car #1 totaled. (He’s ok)
Two weeks to the day later, he is driving (in the new car, that replaced the totaled car) to pick me up at the car rental (I was returning the rental since I bought a new car) and someone ran a red light and hit him. Car #2 totaled. (He’s ok)
Two weeks later, 36 hours before I’m letting this kid get on a plane to Japan to travel with a friend (remember, I’m the coolest mom ever), he sprains his ankle and looks like he has a tennis ball protruding from the bone.
Fast forward to today: I’m driving new car #2 and he’s having a blast in Japan.
It all works out in the end.
Jul's Arthur says
Here’s the silver lining for me: I get to read another gem of a post where you turn misery into your readers laughing.
So sorry you missed Ash, not ash, and I’m sure you will get to go to Costa Rica for your visit in the near future.
“Cancelling dinner with that friend, hating myself even more for my poor time management and my prioritizing of toenails over friendship.”
Love the above and that you admit it! And ain’t it so true, women dress for other women…
I spell it cancelled but usually autocorrect is constantly changing my spelling living here.
Hey Laura 🙂 A bright side is that you didn’t go there and then the volcano erupted and you couldn’t get back because of ash (or some other natural phenomena).
A few years ago, my family went to Northern California for Christmas and after arriving at the airport to return to home to New Mexico, standing in line to check our bags with tons of other ready-to-get-home holiday travelers, our flight got canceled (I’m using one L 🙂 because of big snow storm. We got rescheduled for the next day.
Next day, we called the airport in advance (cause we’re smart 🙂 to find that our new flight got canceled. We got rescheduled again.
Two days after our original booked flight home, we get to airport and glad to be there. We couldn’t get a nonstop direct flight 🙁 but we were heading home :-). We had to change planes in Los Angeles.
We get off the plane in LA, I look at the departure monitor, and I find our final flight to Albuquerque with the word CANCELED. My “Oh-no!” response quickly passes cause I go into problem solving mode. I demand of myself that we are getting home! I notice on the monitor that a flight to El Paso, TX (four hour drive to Albuquerque), was currently LOADING. I told my husband and our two kids (about ages 9 and 11) that we had to RUN to a new gate.
We got to the gate as the last passenger in the waiting area was getting on the plane. We made it on.
We arrived at El Paso and had to wait almost two hours to rent a car cause there were many others renting cars to drive to Albuquerque. We ended up sharing a mini-van with strangers: a father and his 5 year old son, who had to take 5 planes to get from DC to El Paso over a two days. (We had it easy compared to him).
Our mini-van partners dropped us off at our car at the Albuquerque airport at 2 am New Year’s Day. We had to push about a foot of snow off of our SUV. We made it home 2.5 days after our planned return.
Linda Melone says
I don’t usually laugh at the expense of others, but this was a riot. Especially the part about getting a pedicure so you look human. All I could picture was Hobbit feet as the “before” photo, human feet with red toenails as the “after.”
My worst WORST experience is a long story, but I’ll sum it up for you:
I just got married and was moving to the west coast from NY the very next day. It rained buckets. I mean like a special effects guy was on my roof literally dumping buckets of water.
Add to that two uncooperative cats yowling for the entire 45 minute drive in the back of a limo. You can imagine the ‘tude of the limo driver by the time we got to the airport.
We get there to find out our cat cages weren’t airline approved. WTF??? Did I tell you it was raining buckets? And cargo — where we had to drop off the cats — was 20 minutes from the main gate. So the limo driver had to wait the whole time. My new husband tipped him something ridiculous like $100.
We make it on the plane and land at LAX. Hubby had been living in California and had taken his car to the airport to fly to CT where we got married. So we get to the airport to drive back to his (now our) home, and and his CAR DOESN’T START. Cue weeping.
Did I tell you we had two yowling cats? They were quiet by now but still. Husband puts me in a taxi and send me home while he waits for someone to get his car started. It’s nearly two hours to get to our house and I have just enough cash to pay the driver.
Thankfully, that was the worst thing we’ve ever gone through after 15 years together. One of the worst days of my life.
Welcome to the club,
The Universe always has a plan! This trip didn’t happen for a specific reason… maybe something AMAZING is about to happen and you need to be home for it to manifest? Never stop believing in miracles!
Plus, now when you DO go on your trip you can give yourself more time to get everything done beforehand and then thoroughly enjoy your trip 🙂
Annalise x #HappinessQueen
PS. I spell it cancelled.
I’m a there’s a reason it wasn’t meant to be kinda girl, maybe something will reveal itself in the next couple days! Hope my book is one your brain will want to read.. mascara for the mind x